Centre officials pass resolution opposing state funding cuts

Money for probation programs, mental health services in danger

BELLEFONTE — The state has proposed $782,460 in funding cuts to key services in Centre County, and the commissioners are not happy.

During the Tuesday, May 16 meeting of the Centre County Board of Commissioners, a resolution was unanimously approved to oppose these cuts, which arise from PA State House Bill 218, the Pennsylvania House budget. They sent a letter to local legislators that stresses the importance of funding these services.

“We have the responsibility of making sure that our legislators understand the effects of some of the votes they are putting out in Harrisburg,” Pipe said.

There are another six weeks until the end of the fiscal year, so the letter will give the commissioners about a month to educate legislators. Pipe said they also want to make sure that citizens are aware of these cuts as well so that they can reach out to their legislators.

The county services that will be affected by these cuts, along with the percentages of the cuts, are as follows:

r Juvenile probation – $114,046 (100%)

r Adult probation – $125,000 (100%)

r Intermediate punishment programs – $142,029 (100%)

r Senior judge reimbursement – $12,552 (100%)

r Court interpreter county grants – $75,000 (100%)

r County court reimbursement – $28,000 (15%)

r Jurors cost reimbursement -$3,000 (15%)

r Human Services Development Fund – $13,000 (15%)

r Homeless Assistance – $53,000 (15%)

r Mental Health Services – $100,000 (15%)

r Emergency Management Performance Grant Program – $116,833 (100%)

Several other counties are facing cuts as well and have put forth similar resolutions, Commissioner Mark Higgins said, including the neighboring county of Clearfield.

Part of the resolution reads, “the proposal argues that savings are to be had in reinventing government, but the cuts in House Bill 218 run exactly opposite to that objective, wholly dismantling successful initiatives already in place, reversing the significant and documented gains made by the commonwealth and counties, and thwarting investment in any new innovations as counties focus just on meeting minimum service delivery thresholds.”

In other business, the new 1,400-square-foot Bellefonte business incubator, SpringBoard, will have its grand opening next Thursday, May 25, at 2 p.m. It will be the sixth business incubator in the county.

The opening will include brief remarks by Sen. Jake Corman, Rep. Mike Hanna, Rep. Scott Conklin, Rep. Rich Irvin, along with commissioners Higgins, Pipe and Steve Dershem. Other local dignitaries will make remarks. Light refreshments will be provided.

“It’s going to be an exciting event,” Pipe said. “A lot of work has gone into this from the community.”

There have been three inquiries into the space, which were made by local entrepreneurs, Higgins said. The incubator space should hold between 12 and 24 businesses, depending upon the size of each. It might take a year to a year and a half to fill up the space with tenants, he said.

County incubators in State College have been quite successful, including the Happy Valley LaunchBox, which has been in operation for more than a year and still receives about 30 applications for every six spaces. The Philipsburg Business Incubator, which opened in May 2016, is looking at a third potential tenant for its space that holds four office units.

SpringBoard is located at 120 S. Water St. in a yellow brick building that is located across from Talleyrand Park, just before the traffic light for High Street. There will be plenty of parking at the CVS and Bellefonte Train Station parking lots.